JVS Scholarships Students, Donors Feted at 40th Anniversary Gala

July 12, 2012 -- Celebrating 40 years of helping students make their educational dreams come true, Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles (JVS) honored the donors and recipients of the 2012-13 JVS Scholarship Program.

More than 250 students, donors and their families attended a special 40th Anniversary Scholarship Program Gala Thursday hosted by the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. At the event, spearheaded by Event Chair Nan Kalish Goodman, JVS Scholarship Chair Ellen Weisman Morehead and Vice-Chair Marnie Bodek, many of the nearly 147 recipients were able to meet and personally thank their donors during a special dessert reception. The evening also included a performance by Ana Guigui, who is studying for a doctorate in musical arts at USC’s Thornton School of Music. Guigui received a scholarship from the Rosalyn and Abner D. Goldstine Fund.

“JVS is a very special organization,” said Guigui who dedicated a medley of friendship-themed songs to her donors. “They’ve helped my dream come true by allowing me to go back to school and start a new path.”

The JVS Scholarship Committee awarded over $457,000 in scholarships to 147 local Jewish students for the 2012-13 academic year. Awards, which are granted based on financial need, community involvement and academic merit, ranged from $2,000 to $5,000. Since the inception of the JVS Scholarship Program in 1972, JVS has awarded 3,718 scholarships totaling more than $5.5 million. The JVS Scholarship Program founders who established and shepherd the program were also recognized both at the event and in a commemorative program.

Scholarship donors, who comprise the working committee, participate actively in interviewing and selecting student recipients. These generous donors often bond with individual students, in some cases mentoring them and often funding them throughout the course of their education. 

“This is a gift that truly keeps on giving,” said JVS CEO Vivian Seigel who was honored with a named scholarship fund by the JVS Board when she celebrated her 30 year anniversary with the agency five years ago.

For the second consecutive year, JVS collected donations from students and their families, alumni and first time donors to fundTzedakah Community Scholarships. A total of just over $5,000 in cash and pledges was placed in a specially designated Tzedakah Box (“righteous and just act”). A generous donor matched the pledges, bringing the total single-night collection amount to more than $10,000.With these contributions and the matching donation made in loving memory of Ben and Sarah Baran, JVS will fund additional scholarships in the next academic year.

  JVS has long recognized and responded to overcoming challenges in funding education. It is the organization’s belief that a sound education provides the grounding necessary to achieve a stable and prosperous career path.

Challenges remain substantial today in the face of state budget shortfalls and rising tuition costs both in California and nationally. A 2011 CNN report noted that the cost of studying and living on campus at the average public university rose 5.4% for in-state students - about $1,100 - to $21,447 in the fall of 2011 according to data from the College Board.

In November of 2010, Regents of the University of California (UC) voted to increase tuition and fees by 8% for the 2011-12 academic year, bringing the total annual undergraduate cost for California students to approximately $11,124. The following year, UC administrators estimated that fees could jump an additional 8 to 16% over the next four years bringing the potential cost for the 2015-16 academic year to as high as $22,068. 

Nor are loan repayment options getting any easier for students. While Congress this summer agreed to keep the federally subsidized Stafford loans at an interest rate of 3.4%over the next fiscal year, the rate is scheduled to double to 6.8% next year. Loans for graduate students are now accruing interest while the students are still in school.

JVS Scholarships can help bridge the gap, easing the loan burden and making higher education more accessible.

The 2012 milestone year represents a significant step in a journey that began in 1972 with the granting of its first awards of $150-$750 to 44 students. Former JVS Executive Director Morris Grumer had lobbied for the creation of a fund to assist Jewish students experiencing financial need to attend college. In the ensuing years, the program has grown so substantially that JVS President John Goldsmith often refers to it as “the jewel in the crown of JVS.”

“In spite of the economy, in spite the skyrocketing cost of tuition, in spite of all the challenges, this was a banner year for us – for one reason: the generosity of our donors,” said Morehead. “More money raised means more qualified students are supported with larger scholarships, helping them bridge the gap in their financial aid and ease their academic experience.”

This year’s group of scholarship recipients is attending community colleges, state universities and private colleges across the country including Harvard University, Columbia University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, The Juilliard School and Stanford University.

Their studies include, but are not limited to, Law, Medicine, Education, Business, Veterinary Science, Non-Profit Management, Architecture, Psychology, Early Childhood Development, Urban Studies, Concert Violin and Family Therapy.

The 2012-13 recipients include a student who balanced his education in medicine with ROTC training and a commitment to the U.S. Army; a set of triplets who have overcome learning disabilities and ADD; and a young woman who was inspired to study medicine when, as a child, she saw American doctors in Berlin treating victims of the Chernobyl disaster.

There are students who have succeeded despite learning and/or physical disabilities, students who have immigrated from Iran and Russia, as well as students who are returning to school in midcareer after raising their own children.

Scholarship recipient Teddy Goldsmith, who is studying to be a clinical psychologist at Alliant International University, has worked extensively with children with special needs. He received the first JVS Alumni Association Scholarship which is funded by past JVS Scholarship recipients.

“It’s very exciting to know that some of my funding comes from past recipients,” said Goldsmith, “and I certainly hope I’ll be able to give back in the same way when I’m finished with school.”

Saar Mizrahi, who received the Gantwerker Family Scholarship and a Casper Mills Scholarship, added that the scholarship donors are doing more than simply helping to fund students’ education.

“They’re investing in me,” said Mizrahi, a political science major at USC who hopes to eventually attend law school. “They help me succeed and in return I represent them. I have an obligation to succeed because what they have given me and what they have invested in me. I take that very seriously.”

Since its founding in 1931, JVS has enhanced the lives of hundreds of thousands of job seekers with vital employment and career services. Each year, JVS helps nearly 30,000 people from over 30 sites around the Southland. A non-profit, non-sectarian organization, JVS works to ensure everyone has access to the help they need, including long term unemployed, at-risk students, those transitioning from welfare to work, veterans transitioning from military service to civilian life and people with disabilities. Visit www.jvsla.org for more information. You can also find JVS on Facebook at JVS Los Angeles or follow us on twitter @JVSlosangeles.
 

2012 Scholarship Program Outcomes

• Total amount of scholarships awarded: $457,800
• Total number of awards: 147, 56 new scholarships and 91 renewals. 

• Award range: $2,000 - $5,000

New applicants: 152
Renewal applicants: 104

Students attending schools out of state: 30

Students attending schools in California: 117

Demographics
o 64% - Female; 36% - Male

Country of origin
o 52% - U.S.
o 34% - Iran
o 6% - Israel
o 6% - Former Soviet Union

o 2% - Other

For more information about the JVS Scholarship Program

Contact:

·Patricia Sills, Scholarship Program Manager

6505 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (323) 761-8888 x8868